The East Broad Top Railroad has announced an expanded operating schedule with added special events for 2011, according to David C. Brightbill (office manager) and Daniel Gilliland (operations manager). This year regular weekend operations (Saturdays and Sundays) will begin on May 7 and continue through October 30. In addition trains will also operate on Thursdays and Fridays from July 7 through August 12 and October 6 through October 28. The usual three trains per day schedule will apply on these dates: Trains will leave Orbisonia station at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm to make the round trip to Colgate Grove and back. FEBT volunteers will offer two guided tours of the shops and roundhouse each day (based on availability of tour leaders).
Ticket prices for the regular steam trains continue the standard fares from last year. The cost of regular seats is $13.00 for adults and $8.00 for children. Tickets for caboose seats are $15.00, and tickets for the EBT's private car, the "Orbisonia," can be purchased for $20.00. Note that other ticket prices may apply for special trains and during events.
Dinner trains are scheduled on selected weekends in May, June, July, August, and October. Consult the EBT web site for specific dates and diner train ticket prices.
This year the EBT is hosting Thomas the Tank Engine on July 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, and 10. Operations on these days will feature 25-minute rides behind a "full-size" Thomas the Tank Engine, characters from the Thomas stories in costume, story-telling, and live music. Special tickets will be required to participate in the Thomas-related activities. Visit the railroad's web site for more information and tickets for these "days out" with Thomas at the EBT.
The EBT is looking for additional personnel to assist during the Thomas weekends; some of these positions may be paid temporary employees, others will be volunteers. FEBT members interested in helping should contact the railroad directly by telephone or email (via the EBT web site).
Other special events at the EBT this year include the Central Pennsylvania Ragtime Festival on June 17-19; a fireworks train on July 16; Community Appreciation days on August 13-14; and the Fall Spectacular on October 7-9. Special holiday trains are also planned for selected weekends in October and December.
Finally, railfans interested in a hands-on introduction to railroading may wish to investigate High Iron University, to be held at the EBT on July 26-30. This five-day work experience on the EBT is organized in conjunction with the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona; consult the EBT web site for information and registration fees.
Historic EBT 2-8-2 locomotive no. 15 will again handle all steam train operations this year. During the past winter the locomotive's trailing truck was removed and transported to the Strasburg Rail Road for needed repairs. Completion of this work is takiug longer than expected, so for the first part of the 2011 operating season EBT no. 15 will "borrow" the trailing truck from sister engine no. 14. The two trailing trucks will be exchanged this summer, after the refurbished truck from no. 15 is returned to Rockhill Furnace. Routine maintenance and other work needed to prepare for 2011 operations started at the beginning of April.
To purchase tickets, inquire about group rates, or obtain specific train information, contact the East Broad Top Railroad directly at (814) 447-3011. Information about the EBT's 2011 operating schedule and special events is posted on the railroad's web site and can also be found on the FEBT web site.
The photograph reproduced below, lifted from one frame of 16-mm movie film shot by my father at the Mount Union station in August 1941, shows an eastbound Pennsylvania RR train arriving behind an iconic K4s. My grandfather was the Railway Post Office clerk-in-charge on this train. With an introduction to railroading of this memorable magnitude, how could I not become a life-long railfan? Mount Union in this pre-Pearl Harbor heyday just oozed with intense steam railroading activity - and a few years later I discovered the East Broad Top Railroad in all its postwar narrow gauge operating glory.
With my life now reordered in the wake of an unplanned retirement, I have been digging into my archives to write and prepare books on the railroad scenes I remember or, in the case of Narrow Gauge to Boston; A Nostalgic Window on the Boston, Revere Beach and Lynn Railroad (South Platte Press, 2010), on which I amassed a substantial number of photos and information. For the past year I have been preparing two new books, Growing Up on the East Broad Top Railroad recounts my experiences of riding the mixed trains up Broad Top Mountain and hanging out in the busy rail yard at Mount Union. Tracks Around Mount Union will cover the mini-rail empire (industrial operations in 36 and 24-inch gauges, an industrial trolley operation, terror and death on the high fill, and other stories) that engulfed the borough.
I cannot do this alone. As I work my way through these projects, I have found several holes in the material I want to include - and I am seeking your help in filling them. This may be by no means the end of what I am seeking. As of now, I am trying to find the following:
About twice a year, the EBT had C.B. Oswalt's printing shop at Mount Union print 50 to 100 single-sheet timetables of the schedules for its mixed and miner trains. Timetables on the EBT were not handed out to riders - they were posted in the stations, aboard the trains, and at other locations. I need copies (sharp Bitmap scans of at least 600 dpi on a DVD or quality unfolded Xerox copies will be fine) of several timetables, with a strong preference for the schedule for June and July 1948.
In 1964, a film crew from Republic Pictures (of western horse opera fame) descended on the EBT to shoot railroad scenes for a movie titled The Fool Killer. I am looking for still photos from this shoot, particularly the front end of no. 12 dressed up with a gosh-awful long pointed pilot, boxy headlight, and elongated diamond stack (a post-Civil War loco it was not!); and scenes of wood-sided boxcar no. 160 with truss rods and a small place with a floor constructed of boiler tubes for The Hero to hop the freight train.
A mid 20th-century map now in the public domain of Mount Union showing, in some detail, the PRR and EBT tracks running through Mount Union and Allenport that can be cropped to show only the tracks and immediate surrounding areas.
A simple schematic map of the EBT circa 1948, showing the main line from Mount Union to Alvan intact, Shade Gap Branch intact to Blacklog and a broken line beyond there to Neelyton and north from Shade Gap through the Shade Valley, Rocky Ridge Branch a broken line, and Narco and Coles Valley branches intact. What have I missed? Do we have an amateur cartographer in our midst who can whip one out.
That's it for now, but I don't rule out a future need to find additional missing pieces for these jigsaw puzzles, and there are more books in the pipeline. If you can help or think you know where the material I am seeking may be located, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FEBT Rockhill Work Crew Coordinator
R. Lee Rainey
784 Tanager Drive
State College, PA 16803-2502
Telephone: (814) 867–7878 (evenings)
FEBT Robertsdale Work Crew Coordinator
2016 A Park Avenue
Richmond, VA 23220
Telephone: (804) 353–0817
FEBT members are requested to vote to elect four persons to the nine-member board of directors of Friends of the East Broad Top, Inc., using the ballot included with this newsletter. All FEBT members holding regular, family, sustaining, associate, life, senior, and student memberships are eligible to vote in this election. The directors chosen by FEBT members in this election will serve two-year terms of office.
The nominating committee for this election cycle consisted of FEBT member Robert R. Farquharson (chairman), FEBT director Richard D. Shell, and FEBT Company Store manager Richard M. Ullery. Based on the names of potential nominees the committee received, including three incumbent directors holding seats up for election, the committee has placed four FEBT members on the official ballot.
Each candidate was asked for a written statement of 100 words or less summarizing his or her past and present contributions to FEBT and indicating what he or she would do if elected. These responses are reproduced below (minimally edited), in the randomized order in which the candidates' names appear on the official ballot. An asterisk (*) denotes an incumbent director running for reelection.
I have had an affiliation with the EBT in one capacity or another for most of my life. More recently as an active FEBT volunteer I have become interested in helping to continue development of a sustainable and effective FEBT. Much of my day job requires project planning over the next decade, and as part of the board I'd pursue the establishment of a long-term plan and work to see it followed. The established relationships between FEBT, the railroad, and the operator, as well as Railways to Yesterday, are critical components to the strength of FEBT and must be fostered.
I have served as a FEBT director and officer since 1993 and as president since 1997. Currently I also coordinate our restoration work at Robertsdale and our Coles Station water tank documentation project. I am committed to working on the challenges we face, which include (1) continuing our efforts to improve the quality and effectiveness of FEBT operations; (2) building on the successes of our restoration program; (3) expanding our outreach initiatives; (4) further developing our museum and collections; (5) securing the necessary funds to maintain our progress on these activities; and (6) working with the owner of the EBT to insure its future.
Vagel Keller has been a member of FEBT since 1987. He has served the organization in many capacities, including serving on the board of directors, FEBT ombudsman, volunteer coordinator for events at the railroad and for the past ten years as assistant vice president for museum operations at Robertsdale. Otherwise his efforts on behalf of FEBT have focused on preserving and adding to the historical knowledge of the EBT. Aside from the well-known walking tours held in Robertsdale every fall reunion, Vagel inaugurated the popular "early bird" explorations, has published numerous historical articles in The Timber Transfer, and contributed his extensive research files on the EBT to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. As a member of the board for the coming term he would continue to assist in speeding the progress on the old post office and other projects in Robertsdale, where he served on the work crew for several years.
I have been a member since 2000 and have served on the board for six years. I have contributed to events, documentation, publicity, modeling supplies, and exhibits. I have been involved with many restoration projects and am a restoration crew leader in Rockhill Furnace. I will continue to support FEBT's restoration work in both Rockhill Furnace and Robertsdale, and continue to work on exhibits for and support uses for Robertsdale to increase its value to members. I think FEBT needs to increase membership, encourage new volunteers, and consider long-term planning for our finances, railroad cars, and other assets.
We are pleased that former EBT brakeman and retired Huntingdon County commissioner Lee R. Wilson has again agreed to serve as election judge. All 2011 election ballots must be mailed to FEBT Directors Election, c/o Lee R. Wilson, Election Judge, 10642 Wilson Road, Three Springs PA 17264. Only ballots received by May 19, 2011, will be counted.
On April 9-10 FEBT director William L. Adams, with assistance from Deane Mellander, set up a FEBT display table at the Great Scale Model Train Show at the state fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland. In addition to distributing information about FEBT and the East Broad Top Railroad, Bill also sold some of the non-EBT-related models donated last year by FEBT member James G. Mersereau. Bill reports that these sales generated over $2,000 for the FEBT restoration fund.
Other members of friends of the East Broad Top continue to assist our outreach efforts by representing us a recent and upcoming train shows and conventions. In February, FEBT members James A. Vliet and Robert L. Harris Jr., organized a display and distributed FEBT and EBT information at the Spring Thaw Train Meet in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In March FEBT members Dennis R. Straub and Bob Harris distributed FEBT and EBT information at the Harrisburg Railroad Show and Collectors Market, sponsored by the Harrisburg Pennsylvania, chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
The National Model Railroad Association's 2011 National Train Show will be held in Sacramento, California, on July 8-9. FEBT members in that area interested in the possibility of setting up a FEBT display table at this train show (held in conjunction with the NMRA's national convention) should contact FEBT outreach coordinator Dennis Straub, whose telephone number and e-mail address are given below, so that we can reserve space at this event.
The 2011 National Narrow Gauge Convention will be held in Hickory, North Carolina, on September 7-10. FEBT members who plan to attend this convention and are interested in helping us with a display table should contact Dennis.
We are always happy to provide literature and information about the EBT and FEBT to FEBT members for distribution at train shows, conventions, and other events. Please contact FEBT outreach coordinator Dennis R. Straub by telephone at (717) 249-4239 (home or by email at email@example.com providing as much advance notice as possible.